"Without the head, the body will die"I do not recall if that was uttered by Mohammed Ali or St. Paul, but I thought of applying it to a couple of college football teams today.
A team that is unsure of its leader has no leader, and the Arizona State and California programs showed how poorly an entire team can perform when unsure of which QB has the confidence of the coaching staff.
In Tempe, Head Coach Dirk Koetter and the Arizona State Sun Devils have endured much controversy over the last three weeks since soph Rudy Carpenter was named the starter. Remember, that announcement was less than 24 hours after senior Sam Keller was named the top guy, which was 72 hours after eller announced he would transfer to Nebraska for the 2007 season. Carpenter and all of the Sun Devils struggled with a late defensive effort to beat 1-AA Northern Arizona Thursday night.
Way out west, Cal coach Jeff Tedford would not commit to a starter until he was sure of the health of Nate Longshore (right)- that was Thursday! The Bears opened at #9 pre-season in the Coaches Poll, but Cal was embarrassed in their opener at Tennessee , 35-18. So bad was Longshore that last year's starter Joe Ayoob played for most of the second half.
Please do not think that I am furthering a cliche' that the QB is the most important position for every team - it specifically rings true for these two programs. Think of the alumni from each - Andrew Walter and Keller each have thrown for 4000 yards at Arizona, and Cal has put a couple QBs in the NFL - Kyle Boller and Aaron Rodgers.
These coaches have to appreciate the confidence the program derives from having certainty under center. Dare I say that even if they name the wrong guy in the beginning of the season, it allows the rest of the team to focus on their own assignments as they prepare for the season, plus gives the coach the option of changing during the year.
In the absence a a field general, the troops lack focus - and that is exactly what affected both teams this weekend. Not just the offense but the defenses as well.
Let that be a lesson to all the Quarterback U's out there.